Cox wonders if NHL tried to kill Crosby; WGS barfs


Cox wonders if NHL tried to kill Crosby; WGS barfs

By Mary Paoletti

This is awful: "NHL may have put Crosby at risk in Winter Classic"

Now, I pretend to hate Canada the way all good Americans should...

It'sChristmas in Canada

...but my dislike for Damien Cox's column has nothing to do with it running on the Toronto Star's website. I wasn't even bothered by the fact that the little weather box in the top left of the header said it was -20 Celsius. Celsius sucks. I had to look up an online conversion tool to find out what the real temperature is.

No, I was annoyed because Cox took a potentially interesting idea -- "The impact of Sidney Crosbys potential absence from the NHL all-star game next weekend varies depending on the perspective one holds on the event" -- and turned it into a 689-word exercise in jock sniffing.

Hes the best player in the world right now. Hes the games leading ambassador. Hes the captain of one of the two NHL teams, Pittsburgh and Washington, which matter far more to the NHL than any of the other 28. He would, without question, be the No. 1 pick in Fridays all-star fantasy draft if hes healthy.

So if the game matters, the fact that Crosby wont be there matters.

I won't argue this point. Though I don't always like Criesby, I love hockey and he's important to the league.

But then:

In other words, did the NHL put its top attraction in jeopardy and eliminate him from participating in not only recent games with the Penguins but also the all-star game by staging the Winter Classic the way that it did?


...putting a hockey rink in the middle of a football field, with no stands close to the boards, totally changes the feel of the ice surface and the depth perception of the players.Adding to the problem was the rain.... It affected visibility as well as the ice for both skating and puck handling.Finally, the game was moved to the evening from the afternoon, something that never happens in the NHL. Hockey players are creatures of habit the morning skate, the afternoon nap, the pre-game meal and even an afternoon game can throw them off.

Cox: Are you serious?

Are you really exploring the idea that various factors -- some man-made, like the outdoor rink, and some "acts of God," like napping -- conspired together with David Steckel to create a death trap for Sidney Crosby?

That can't be right because that's freaking absurd.

So maybe these "factors" just coincided with the Steckel hit, and the point of note is the fact that the whole thing could have been avoided entirely?

Oh, please.

The Kid has already played in a Winter Classic, in the event's 2008 debut. With only four games in WC history, Pittsburgh has played in 50 of them because of Crosby. That's it. The NHL smartly used his nameface in opposition to Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin's to bring max hype to the game.

It's not like the two teams in the previous season's Stanley Cup finals (Flyers, Blackhawks) are promised the Winter Classic and that promise had to be honored. Selecting the Pens and Caps was a choice. And that selection is an honor.

But Cox acts like Crosby was cursed.

...heres the compelling point: Few have ever seen Crosby get hit like he was by Steckel, seemingly caught unaware of his position on the ice and, more importantly, the position of opposing players and his proximity to danger.

He curled back towards the end of the rink as the play headed the other way. He never saw Steckel coming until he felt the Washington centres right shoulder crash into the left side of his head. And this is the most aware hockey player on the planet.

It just wasnt very Crosby-like, and you have to wonder if the altered depth perception, rain, lousy ice and amended schedule played a part.

Hockey players are at risk every single night; they play on a slippery surface and hit each other. I want to find out exactly what the danger quotient was increased to because the players had extra time for afternoon nappies when the game was delayed.

But if the conditions were potentially dangerous for one player then those conditions were dangerous for every player on the ice. Every league protects its stars to some degree -- it's smart business sense, as it is to put those stars in premier events like the Winter Classic -- I get that. This isn't an investigation into how the NHL might have put CROSBYCROSBYCROSBY at risk and failed to protect an investment.

It's gross favoritism.

Cox singles out Crosby's safety with complete disregard for the other players.

If some AHL call-up got one minute of ice time in the Winter Classic and got decapitated in that one minute because the rain caused an opponent to slip and slice the kid's head off with his skate, would that have been cool?

Is that just a risk that Everybody-But-Crosby has to take on a daily basis? What about Ovechkin? He's the NHL's whore, too, but went out there in the rain, apparently risking all seven of his brain cells.

Cox doesn't even bring that up. Know why?


My advice? Act like a normal person instead of a fangirl, Cox. Valentines Day is coming up so just go for it, write Sid an epic love poem instead of using the Toronto Star's sports page.

With Thomas drawing attention, Rozier rises to occasion to send Celtics to overtime

With Thomas drawing attention, Rozier rises to occasion to send Celtics to overtime

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.



C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.



Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.